Answer Man

Here’s how you can get rid of your old CPAP machines

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

Q: Where can I recycle CPAP machines? One is about 10 years old, while the other two are about five.


A: Without knowing more about your equipment and what various groups are willing to accept, I can’t give you a definitive answer. However, I can offer a few possibilities that may leave you resting easier knowing you have helped others get a better night’s sleep.

In fact, you could even end up making a buck or two out of the deal.

Locally, Laura Singer at St. Louis HELP (Home Equipment Lending Program) told me she would welcome your donation. Her nonprofit accepts donations of nearly every type of home medical equipment, including wheelchairs, scooters, hospital beds, lift chairs, etc. The group then cleans and revitalizes the equipment and loans it to people in need.

Since the group is all-volunteer, it does have limited hours — 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays at its warehouse, 9709 Dielman Rock Island Drive in Olivette. For more information and directions, call them at (314) 567-4700 or go to They seem extremely quick at returning calls and emails.

If you’d like to try to get a little return on your investment, you might try They say they are always in the market to buy clean, gently used CPAP devices and related equipment and will even pay your shipping costs if they accept your machines. For complete details, go to or call 1-855-263-2727.

However, they and other groups and businesses, such as the American Sleep Apnea Association’s CPAP Assistance Program (1-888-293-3650, ext. 1), are somewhat picky in what they will accept, so you’ll have to call or write to see whether your machines qualify. Otherwise, you might try contacting sleep disorders centers at area hospitals (Memorial, St. Elizabeth’s, SLUCare, etc.) or other sleep clinics to see if they have a lead for you. You also can try googling “CPAP machine recycling.” I hope this helps your machines find a second life, because sleep apnea affects an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of all Americans and, untreated, can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

Now that we’re still contentedly digesting another Turkey Day feast, it seems an appropriate time for a few leftovers:

▪ A full plate: My recent column on the history of Illinois’ vanity license plates sparked happy memories for Bill Shirley, of Belleville. While living in the Chicago area in the 1970s, he belonged to a Datsun 280Z sports car club. Several years before the Legislature approved the personalized plate law in 1980, a club member, who apparently knew the secretary of state, managed to have a series of plates starting with ZZZ made for fellow members. Shirley’s was ZZZ 64.

▪ Lost in translation: I didn’t mention this in my recent answer to the meaning of “kemo sabe,” but a friend of mine, who happens to be a Spanish scholar, reminded me that some allege Tonto’s term of endearment for the Lone Ranger sounds similar to “quien no sabe,” which is Spanish for “he who doesn’t understand” (or even “idiot” in Apache). In turn, “tonto” is Spanish for stupid or crazy. So have they been trading insults all these years? No, say most. Such an explanation assumes that Tonto hails from the Pueblo, Spanish-speaking Southwest. By most accounts, he is Potawotomi, so the prevailing theory remains that it means “trusty scout (or friend).”

▪ Purrfectly confusing: I must remember that not everyone has seen the musical “Cats” a half-dozen times as I have. In explaining the origin of the phrase “more ways than one to skin a cat,” I left a few readers scratching their heads when I mentioned the Heavyside Layer. Simple explanation: That’s what poet T.S. Eliot, who wrote “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” on which “Cats” is based, called the feline version of heaven, to which Grizabella ascends (up past the Russell Hotel) at the end of the musical.

▪ Music on the fringe: President Teddy Roosevelt may have been the first to popularize the term “lunatic fringe” but he wasn’t the only one. A caller reminded me that “Lunatic Fringe” remains a KSHE Classic nearly 40 years after the Canadian rock group Red Rider released it on its “As Far As Siam” album in 1981.

▪ In tribute: After my answer on the dearth of World War I movies, Joe Reichert reminded me that Freeburg may have the area’s only (or one of the few) monuments to honor those who served in the Great War. “Considering the size of the list (115 by my count) and the population at the time (1,400), they made a sizable contribution,” Reichert wrote. “Lots of key names in the early days, Heiligenstein being one of the most significant.” I remember the statue of the doughboy well, having attended numerous village homecomings when it was still held in that square-block park, a couple doors west of my Uncle Herman’s house.


▪ Paying respect: Thanks to retired Air Force Lt. Col. Claude Barrow, of O’Fallon, for informing me that even veterans and other service members not in uniform have another option to honor the flag. Thanks to the National Defense Authorization acts of 2008 and 2009, they, like their uniformed brethren, can give a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the U.S. flag as well as the playing of the national anthem. Formerly, they were officially limited to placing their hand over their heart.

Today’s trivia

Which rock band was the first to stream music on the internet? When?

Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: On Dec. 13, 1769, Dartmouth College was established to educate Indians in “reading, writing & all parts of Learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing & christianizing Children of Pagans.” The private Ivy League school is now one of the nation’s leading universities with a student body of about 6,400.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer